I’m featuring this morning two of the acrylic paintings by Susan Gaber that make up JoAnn Early Macken’s beautiful new picture book, Waiting Out the Storm, released by Candlewick this past week, I think it was. At the back of the book, Gaber pretty much summarizes the appeal of this book, so how about I quote her, shall I? She writes, “I’m inspired and held in awe by how this graceful story takes on fear, love, and compassion all in a simple and familiar situation.”
That familiar situation is a storm. A young girl and her mother are outside: “Mama?” the girl asks, as the wind picks up. “Yes, buttercup?” her mother responds. And then the girl asks, “What’s that I hear?” Her mother tries to soothe the girl by explaining why the wind whistles, why thunder stomps, how lightning is tricky, and how all the animals stay safe during the rough weather.
Now, just look at that gorgeous spread, and please click it to enlarge and see it in more detail. Gaber’s art work is detailed, with richly-colored spreads, most of them taking up every inch of space. This is one to pore over. (Anyone else familiar with Phyllis Root’s Ten Sleepy Sheep, which was a favorite when my girls were smaller, may recognize Gaber’s art.) The author herself has said about the illustrations, “Susan Gaber’s illustrations capture the kind of safe haven I wish every child (and chipmunk and chickadee) could enjoy.” As for the text, written in a call-and-response style (making good use of italics) and never once talking down to the child reader: It is so warm, cozy, and lyrical that you want to crawl into Mama’s world, look into adoption, and maybe take a wee, comfy nap.
(Click on the image to see the entire spread from which this illustration comes.)
You all know I normally like to point out the professional reviewers’ opinions on such books: Thus far, I see a starred Booklist review:
“Providing a light narrative framework and a breezily conversational, yet poetic exchange, the verse likens the girl and her mother to the animals sheltering, safe and snug, from the storm. Gaber’s captivating artwork, combining watercolor, pencil, and charcoal with digital renderings, is simultaneously strong and delicate. From the impressionistic pictures of clouds and rain to the cutaway view showing the chipmunks underground to the cozy indoor scenes, the range of subjects and approaches is broad, but they are unified by style, palette, and a lyrical sense of flowing lines and forms. Lovely to look at and pleasing to listen to, this is just right for reading aloud on a rainy day.”
It’s both gentle and exuberant at the same time, if that makes any sense. And Gaber’s art is a feast for the eyes.
WAITING OUT THE STORM. Text copyright © 2010 by Joann Early Macken. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Susan Gaber. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
Well, I hesitate to slap a picture of my child up here, since—arguably—only the parents and grandparents care to see it, but these are my kicks, right? The things that made my week? My oldest turned six. All my seven kicks this week (plus some) can be wrapped up in her. She scatters joy. And I can’t believe she’s six. And I love this picture I took a few weeks ago:
Also, we had her birthday party at the little studio where she takes art classes every weekend, and her oh-so smart and creative art teacher made this cardboard princess dress for her, and all the kids decorated it. How cool is that? I ask you. We arranged the party around my daughter’s one and only request: Glitter glue.
My sweet daughter turning six is enough joy for a week — it spills over into next month, in fact. I can hardly put my arms around that happiness.
What about you? What are YOUR kicks this week?